When I say weekend I am of course referring to any day of the week you happen to strike it lucky and get some down time with your tiny tribes. But that wasn’t quite as catchy a title. As a family, we are pretty good at getting outdoors and drumming up activities for the kiddos but it’s always good to mix things up. So what do you do if you’re stuck in a rut, you can smell the boredom and feel the meltdowns brewing in the water?
I’ve put together a short series of our favourite things to do together with tips to keep tiny minds occupied and big imaginations alive.
1 ] Find A Castle
In the U.K. we’re never too far from a castle. That’s the beauty of living in a land full of ancient history. But the fact is, it doesn’t even need to be a full-on, Disney-style castle. One of our favourite paddle board spots has the remains of a small tower house and that’s enough magic to wile away a contented hour. If you’re really prepared, pack a picnic – a couple of snacks and a rug will even do the trick – and have your very own royal banquet.
Beautiful beastie-mama, Erin, snapped her kids running wild in the ruins of an old Abbey in Carlingford:
‘Nothing to hold her back but the length of that Snow White gown. But we just tied it up and she was back to climbing and scraping knees. Who needs princess dresses when we have mountains to climb and pirates to fight off?’
2 ] Forage a bouquet
This one’s twofold because you get to spend some quality time with your little ones and also end up with an amazing bouquet. It’s an opportunity to let your kids take the lead, show them that they’re important and they’re wanted while encouraging natural, mindful play. Probably the easiest one on the list to check off as you can do this anywhere; local Greenways, by the coast or just along the footpath. The wilder the better; seeing the magic in the everyday is part of the charm.
3 ] Pick Your Own
I first did this a few years ago child-free with my girl, Julia Lucia, in preparation for a joint baking venture but knew immediately how much the boys would love it. I mean, sprawling fields with wild bushes three times their height just bursting with fresh fruit as far as the eye can see. What’s not to love?! Seeing them work together as a team and feed/splat each other was good for the soul.
What surprised me most, however, as a budget conscious consumer was how unbelievably cheap our haul was. As we walked back towards the farm shop with bulging punnets ( – stop it – ), major heart palpitations started to kick in. While the experience was amazing I wasn’t sure it going to be worth £35 in fruit that was going to end up frozen and used in smoothies from now until the end of time.
The whole lot only ended up costing us less than a fiver which considering the one-in-the-mouth for every one in the basket method the boys were employing was an absolute steal.
4 ] Get Lost
No, not without your kids. I know it’s tempting, but we love them really. Sometimes it’s important to just stop for a moment and really remember what it’s like to be tiny. To see things with fresh eyes and an excitable spirit. Taking a walk through a forest is just the trick. I still feel a little awe-struck myself when I step into the shadows of those high trees so this is the perfect activity for all ages. Take your lead from the nature around you; invent games, tell stories and most of all, create memories.
You know I’m a sucker for a redhead and the lovely Denise is mama to four of them. She recently took her eleven year old daughter on a mission to find an infamous pyramid buried deep within her local forest:
‘Izzy loved running down the hills, finding ‘secret’ passageways and picking up interesting treasures. I loved how she made it an adventure. There were so many paths to take and she would choose this way or that, completely revelling in her role of leading the way. She would also be mindful – in true Hansel & Gretel style – to leave markers so we could find our way back.’
5 ] Dig For Treasure
If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach or a lake, pack up your plastic shovel, grab a bucket and swashbuckle your way to the shore. Rock pools are perfect for crab-spotting and treasure hunting and what is it about the water, totally irrespective of temperature, that invites little legs to take an absolute bomb-dive towards it? Take a couple of sticks and plant an X over some sneakily buried treats for a legitimate pirate experience and an epic reaction from the tinies.
If you’re more land-lubber than ocean lover then you can pick up a bag of play sand from any large retailer and recreate a miniature pirate adventure from the comfort of your own home. No one’s judging, Captain.
What for them is a day of good, honest fun can become for you an accompanying lesson in just chilling the heck out. It’s easy to get caught up in the dos and don’ts and the ‘Stop touching that!’. If you ever have days where you feel like all you’ve done is tell your kids no then consider these suggestions something of a cure. A reset button for your patience and an opportunity for them to run wild with minimal limits.
I read recently that lack of communication is the first step in disengagement and that definitely applies to your relationship with the kiddos. If you have your phone with you for photos, stick it on flight mode and force a few hours of disconnection.
As with everything, the key is preparation. Be prepared to get wet, to get messy and to come home a bit dishevelled. It’s an incredibly freeing feeling to just relax and let them be. To follow their lead, even if that means running fully dressed into the ocean with your shoes on. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The funny thing is, the more effort you put in to getting stuck in the more fun you’ll have yourself. Connect with me on Instagram and let me know what you thought of my list! I’d love to hear what you get up to with your own crew when you’re in need of some revived inspiration.